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‘Bribe money-swallowing’ cop trial opens

By Tarisai Machakaire

The trial of the police officer who tried to swallow bribe cash after being busted kicked off yesterday, with a man who was used to deliver the trap money testifying that the accused reacted violently after realising that she had been cornered.

Wilson Siwela, who is a conductor, attested that the cop — Mbare Police Station officer-in-charge Violet Sigauke — removed her belt in a fit of rage and attempted to assault him.

Sigauke is being charged with criminal abuse of office.

She appeared before Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube.

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Siwela, who works for Mama Ru commuter omnibuses, said he was not aware when he delivered the money that it was trap cash.

He told the court that after handing over the money to Sigauke, his boss, Tatenda Muzondo, called the Mbare Traffic Section boss to confirm if she had received the correct amount.

“My manager called me and instructed me to meet him so that I could go and give the accused person money for free passages of our kombis. He directed me to her office and when I arrived, there was a man sitting in the office,” Siwela said.

“After handing over the money to her, my manager called the accused person to verify if I had delivered the full amount. As I left the office, three men (police officers) approached me and told me to return with them to accused person’s office.

“When I indicated that the accused person had put the money in her drawer, she removed her belt intending to assault me but was restrained by the police officers who advised her that she would face more charges.”

The court heard that one of the cops then advanced towards Sigauke intending to conduct a search but she swiftly reached for the money and inserted it into her mouth.

“The police officer had to press against her cheeks but the accused person bit his thumb and had to be assisted by his colleagues. They had to engage two female officers because she resisted arrest,” added Siwela.

In Sigauke’s defence compiled by her lawyer Admire Rubaya, she challenged the admissibility of prosecution’s evidence on the basis that it was attained by police officers who indecently assaulted her.

Sigauke claims that she never received or swallowed the bribe money but claims she wrestled with the arresting details for 40 minutes as they tried to shove the bank notes into her breasts.

“The accused person will deny the offence and state that the evidence upon which a decision to prosecute her has been made was obtained by the arresting detail in an inhuman and degrading manner…by fondling her breasts and buttocks in violation of her rights as a woman,” Rubaya said.

“The prosecution is a direct consequence of a pre-trial illegality of violating of the fundamental human rights. She is a victim of a well-orchestrated conspiracy to remove her from ZRP Mbare Traffic Section for effectively executing her duties.

“…these are clearly malicious, frivolous, and vexatious allegations being peddled by the commuter omnibus operators who viewed her as an impediment to their wanton commission of traffic offences.” Daily News